by Cait Collins
It’s almost time to take on the final edits for HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW? That means it is time to think about the next project. I have a short story entitled Borrowed Uncles in the works. I’m still working on my contemporary western Wildfire. But my next novel will be a resurrection of one of my under-the-bed works, MACON GEORGIA.
MACON GEORGIA is a person, not a place. Macon is part of a covert ops recon team assigned to scout an event for women in Afghanistan. I was well in to the story when the events of 9/11 derailed the piece. I shoved it in a box thinking it was beyond salvation. I opened that box before I moved and reread some of the chapters. I truly believe it is some of my best writing. The question became how do I fix it?
The thought of resurrecting an earlier work is intimidating. I want to keep the tone and suspense of the original, but bring it up to date. Technology has changed. Governments have toppled. Leaders have been assassinated. The whole make-up of the Middle East has changed. Still, I know I can make it work. In many of the countries, women have no status or freedom. I can work with that. My characters are solid and the premise is valid. I look forward to the challenge.
While there will be bumps along the way, but I’m glad I did not toss the draft into the shredder. No story should be dismissed out of hand. I believe in maintaining a file either electronically or on paper of unfinished works. Why? There are several reasons. 1) What if you are meeting with an agent or editor and he asks, “Okay what else do you have?” You can pitch your hidden-in-the-box novel. 2) Parts of a discarded work might be applicable for a new story. 3) Even stories that have problems can be reworked into updated and modern novels. Another reason to hang on to an old work is the writer has gained experience. The story that failed earlier may have new life because a more seasoned author has a different perspective than he had years earlier. He can envision alternatives to the original outline. He’s able to give CPR to the story. In the end, the piece rescued from the box will be better because the author has become a better writer.
My advice is to hang on to your unfinished projects. If you don’t have room to store the paper copies, scan the hand-written and printed notes into your computer. Back them up on flash drives or an external hard drive. Revisit them occasionally to ascertain if there are lines, settings, or characters that might fit into a current work. You just might find a treasure among the trash.